NEW YORK –Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is no longer missing. He spoke to the media on opening day after failed contract talks with Aaron Judge, then did no interviews for over a month.
Cashman was finally spotted by reporters near a Yankees clubhouse door ahead of Wednesday’s Yankees-Blue Jays matinee at Yankee Stadium, and fairly quickly a state of the organization erupted.
Here are six takeaways:
Cashman is thrilled the Yankees got off to a good start with a baseball-best 21-8 record in Tuesday night’s dramatic 6-5 win over Toronto thanks to a three-run homer from Judge, which puts the AL MVP numbers in his walking year.
“We always thought we had good players,” he said. “We always felt we had the capabilities of a very good team. Now is the time to test those theories, and so far in the very first part of our season it’s been going pretty well.
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Cashman feels it’s too early to feel any vindication from fans and media blaming him for passing on high-priced free agents last winter (especially at shortstop) and failing to agree with Judge on an extension by the slugger’s opening day deadline.
“Criticism comes with the territory,” Cashman said. “Our players have to deal with this all the time. The only thing that matters is going out there and winning, and these guys are winning their games right now and that’s great to see. It’s easier to sleep at night in April and May right now, so hopefully we can keep the healthy side up and keep the mojo going.
“I know we have a good crew. We knew that before the start of the season, but it’s nice to see these guys coming together really well and doing what is necessary, which is finding all the ways to win consistently. I remember (Giancarlo) Stanton saying earlier in the year that we could have won some lost games. So even the ones that eluded us, until the very end, we were lucky enough to take another “W”, which is great to see. »
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Cashman wouldn’t go into anything about the judge’s contractual status other than to say that a date has been set for a salary arbitration hearing. If the parties fail to reach a contract (or an extension) for 2022 by then, a panel of arbitrators will decide whether the judge wins $21 million or $17 million.
“I think what we said just before the start of the season, just to shine a light on everything, we’re not going to talk about now,” Cashman said. “Whether that means we’re going to talk or not, I’m not saying that. But we are not going to talk about it here in a (public) forum in the future. But he was awesome, but that’s no surprise because he’s awesome.
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There have been a lot of rumors that Judge is upset that the Yankees announced their extension offer, seven years for $213.5 million.
Cashman says this is news to him.
“It all feels like a month and a half now, so I don’t really think it needs repeating,” Cashman said. “But, yes, his camp knew about it. So I assumed that (the judge) knew everything. And if you say he was upset by that, I don’t know and it certainly doesn’t sound like that when I’ve interacted with him since until now.
The Yankees entered Wednesday tied for fifth in the AL with 17 stolen bases from 24 attempts after being 10th in the league last season. Additionally, the Yanks’ steals have increased somewhat for their minor league clubs.
Cashman said credit Matt Talarico, Yankees base manager.
“That light shines on him,” Cashman said. ” He is fantastic. The success we’ve had in the minor leagues, and it’s obviously carried over here to the big league level, it’s all to his credit and obviously up to (manager Aaron) Boone to decide when he wants to deploy that in the game and then our players who have the green light when they want to enjoy things. But Talarico would be the person who deserves all the credit for trying to increase our ability to steal bases, whether you’re athletic or not.
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While batting .215 with two home runs in 27 games, third baseman Josh Donaldson has suffered from sporadic right shoulder pain since spring training that apparently hasn’t stopped him from playing so far.
“Obviously, like all players, things come and go,” Cashman said. “Right now I would say it’s something he’s been working on, but I couldn’t worry at this point.”
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Randy Miller can be reached at [email protected].